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6.5 million more patients might benefit from statins to prevent heart attacks, strokes
Date:3/18/2009

Millions more patients could benefit from taking statins, drugs typically used to prevent heart attacks and strokes, than current prescribing guidelines suggest, Johns Hopkins doctors report in a new study.

Doctors have long known that statins can help prevent subsequent heart attacks and strokes in patients who have already had one of these cardiovascular events. Additionally, statins have been shown to have a protective effect for patients who haven't yet had a heart attack or stroke but are at high risk for developing cardiovascular disease. Consequently, doctors currently prescribe these drugs both to patients with established cardiovascular disease, as well as those with high cholesterol and other risk factors for developing cardiovascular disease such as diabetes. About 33 million older adults men age 50 or older and women age 60 or older are currently eligible to take statins based on these criteria.

However, notes Erin D. Michos, M.D., M.H.S., assistant professor of medicine at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine and its Heart and Vascular Institute, about half of all cardiovascular events occur in patients who don't have high cholesterol, and about 20 percent of these events occur in people who have no identifiable cardiovascular disease risk factor. Until recently, doctors haven't been sure if any of these patients might also benefit from statin therapy.

Last November, a research team led by doctors at Brigham and Women's Hospital in Boston announced the results of a study known as the JUPITER trial that involved nearly 18,000 patients.. They found that statins protect against heart attacks and strokes even in older adults without known cardiovascular disease or diabetes and with low cholesterol, below 130 mg/dla group that isn't usually prescribed statinsas long as these patients also had high levels of C-reactive protein (CRP), a blood marker for inflammation. Recent research has shown that inflammation
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Contact: Christen Brownlee
cbrownlee@jhmi.edu
410-955-7832
Johns Hopkins Medical Institutions
Source:Eurekalert

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